Ways to Cut Costs for Better Customer Service

“You seldom improve quality by cutting costs, but you can often cut costs by improving quality”. – Karl Albrecht

This is the age of the customer, and it is the onus of every company to ensure that they provide consistently better service to their customers by every means possible. One of the top ways to do so is to cut costs, reduce expenses, and put in stringent processes to ensure that the everyday operations run at the optimum levels. In the current business world, cutthroat and unforgiving, making efforts to cut costs and provide the best service possible to customers, has become extremely critical. Every small step and action that companies make to cut costs would have a significant and compound effect, which in turn would mean that companies could focus on improving the service they provide to customers.

Companies run on processes and guidelines, which over time become easy for them. However, with time it is necessary for them to make changes and adapt to the dynamic needs and expectations of customers, and the market environment, since what worked earlier may not be the most cost-effective and efficient processes in the current scenario. The more efficient a company can become at reducing expenses and cutting costs, the better they would be able to focus on providing better customer service and keeping customers happier. The good news is that it is not that hard for companies to put strategies and processes in place to cut costs for better customer service. One of the first places to begin, would be the company’s customer contact centre – managing its processes better would translate to reduced costs, and the savings could be used to provide better customer service and enhanced quality products.

Are there any processes that your company has put in place to cut costs for better customer service? Let us take the example of the approaching holiday season. For a company to improve its processes and provide service excellence, it would be necessary for a company to determine how it performed in the past, and how it could improve. Taking time to figure out what worked and what did not, and which areas caused customers the most problems, would help a company to put in strategies to improve productivity, reduce problems, increase revenue, and enhance service levels. It would be prudent to benchmark the current operating levels with the past, and with existing standards in the market. This would give a company a better idea of what it can improve, the processes it can do away with, and what it needs to enhance, in order to reduce expenses, and cut costs for better customer service.

Staffing costs are one of the major expenses of any company. It would be prudent for a company to assess its costs incurred on staffing, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that it gets the optimum productivity. Hiring right, providing consistent training and development opportunities, and having a robust reward and recognition in place would ensure that a company’s workforce is energized, confident, and able to perform at their optimum at all times. A small yet efficient workforce would be capable of producing far superior results, in lesser time, which in turn would translate into savings for the company. Money and other resources saved, is money earned, and companies could then divert these ‘savings’ to ramp up and provide better customer service and better quality products. In order ensure that everyone in the company understands the value of cutting costs and reducing expenses, it would be prudent to weave this into the culture of the company by making it one of the important KPIs for all job roles, and should be used as one of the parameters for improvements in the job of employees.

We have often mentioned that customers can prove to be a rich source of information and valuable insights. In addition, customer data that is readily available online and through social media should be captured, collated, and stored effectively in a centralized database, using CRM software. This database would help the frontline staff and other departments to provide timely, efficient, and top class service to customers. An updated and well-managed customer database, would help reduce costs since staff would be able to step up and provide more first call resolutions, bring down the number of complaints, and reduce re-work, which in turn would reduce the number of resources used and costs incurred on providing service.

A mistake that companies often make is to rest on laurels, and forget to review their service levels. The fact is that customer needs and expectations change continually, and it would therefore be necessary for a company to review whether they are providing service according to what customers expect, and whether they are spending too much on things that do not make much impact on customer opinion. Another aspect that companies must look at is ensuring that their self-service portals work efficiently. Services such as IVR, online chat, and other automated processes that enable customer self-service, must work efficiently. Such systems, when working efficiently serve to cut down human resource costs, save time and effort for customers, and raise customer satisfaction levels. Such better customer service ensures that customers stay with a company, provide repeat business, and refer the company to others. Companies must also look at flexible working hours and work arrangements for its employees. Work from home options for employees helps to bring down overhead costs of food, space, and electricity for the company. For employees this is a great way to balance work and home life, making for happier and more energized employees, who would be more efficient and produce better quality work, and better customer service.

Planning and forecasting are two factors that are often overlooked, whereas when managed well they can translate to substantial savings for the company, resulting in the possibility of diverting those savings to provide better customer service. Making changes and implementing modifications to improve organizational structure and operations, are great ways to enhance the overall working of the company, ensuring that customers receive better service and products.

Rather than guesswork, it would be prudent for companies to check back regularly with customers as to what they feel about the company – the products and customer experiences. Customer feedback is a sure-shot way for companies to cut costs on unnecessary endeavours, and focus on specifics, which customers expect leading to better customer service. Customers want to be heard, and expect that when they express their views about a company and define their needs and feelings, companies would listen and implement their suggestions. By giving customers what they want, companies save a lot of money, time, and effort that they could otherwise waste on mindless offers, and unfruitful exercises believing them to be things that customers would want.

There is no doubt that reducing expenses and cutting costs, are a great way for companies to not only increase their profit margins, but also provide a lot better customer service. Companies exist because of customers, and customers expect service excellence at least most of the time. Companies that waste their resources, or are unable to cut costs, are constantly frazzled and unable to care well for their customers and employees. Neglecting one or both these assets can prove to be detrimental to a company over time.

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